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Posted by on Dec 22, 2017 in Roadmap

October and November 2017 Retrospective Plus Goals for Early 2018

Continuing our series of retrospectives – reflecting on accomplishments & challenges – we’re going to look back at October and November and give you a detailed peek under the hood for what’s coming in January (January-ish).

If you’d just like to read about the new stuff, click here.

Earlier retros can be found:

And, as always, we hope to hear from you – carrier pigeon is fine. But if you’d like to bring a little consistency to our feedback, please run through our 10 question user survey available here.

In October and November we hoped to get sorting of Groups and Comments done and payment flow for individuals.

We succeeded in releasing drag and drop sorting of Groups and Comments – whoo!

We got the bulk of work done for payments but didn’t want to release at the end of November as many users were grading papers and any bugs, no matter how quickly fixed, could have been very disruptive.

Plus, payments isn’t exactly something users are clamoring for?

Actually, that’s not entirely true. We’ve had a number of emails from teachers asking “how do you pay?” This implies wasted time, on their part, searching for “how do you pay.” Which we apologize for. Plus, it’s weird to be in this in-between…

Individual pricing is here. We’re going to release payments in January. Anyone registered before December 31, 2017 will enjoy all features/libraries through March 1, 2018 for free. Users registering after January 1, 2018 will get a 14-day free preview.

So yes! Tell your friends and get them to create an account to earn two free months to try out our software through a good chunk of the spring term.

Existing Annotate PRO customers, who purchased old versions of our software, continue to enjoy a free year’s subscription from the date of creating a new account.

We also launched an Annotate PRO for Word on iPad beta program – sign up here. You’ll be able to quickly install a little file on your iPad that brings Annotate PRO to Word for iPad (for both Windows and Mac users). With another few months’ feedback from users we’ll formally submit Annotate to Microsoft/Apple for inclusion in their respective app stores.

We did a lot of tweaking and optimizing – great, constant stream of feedback from users – thank you! Now, on to our roadmap for December and January…

December 2017 and January 2018:

Given that is December 22, this is a little bit of a back-dated post. Luckily there is lots of good stuff to share.

Click on any image below to see a larger version.

Along with payments, which means we’ll be able to take Credit Card payments, we have the following features nearing readiness to ship:

  • Review your ‘feed’ of feedback
  • Analytics on your feed
  • Ability to add Free Form comments to an Annotate Library
  • Optimized experience for Google Docs users
  • Optimized experience for Canvas SpeedGrader™ users

1. The Annotate Feed

Annotate PRO saves all of the comments you create to your account. This ‘feed’ will have increasing value to educators; the first example of this value will come with a summary (analytics) and detailed view of your hard work. 

You’ll be able to filter by date (#1 at right), see a distribution of Comments by Group (pie chart), and add Free Form comments to your Library in bulk.

This last capability will be particularly useful to Word 2016 users, who have been loving the big friendly Free Form comment feature in Annotate PRO for Word 2016 that makes it crazy easy to add custom comments to a Word doc and save them for use later.

Here’s a particular use case:

You’ve just received a stack of papers from students (metaphorically speaking) and you want to largely manually comment on the first three or four papers. With the Annotate Feed you’ll be able to review those ‘Free Form’ comments and add them to a Library for reuse – so the next 25 papers go much more quickly.

The screenshot on the left has a bunch of test entries, but you’ll get the idea. It’s a list of the feedback you created. Notice:

  • Free Form Only is toggled ON in the filter area (#1). So we’re only seeing custom (Free Form) comments – not comments selected from a Library.
  • We see a list of all comments created over a specific time period.
  • We can toggle individual comments, then click Add to pop up a window so we can choose to add the selected Comments to a particular Library and Group (#2).

After you save your choices your Libraries will update to include these comments – meaning you can make them favorites, find them through search etc. so  you can quickly apply them to subsequent student work.

2. Analytics

There’s nothing worse than data for the sake of it. Well, actually, there’s lots worse. That’s why Twain said there are three kinds of lies: “Lies, damn lies, and statistics.”

We’ve included the pie chart as a quick example of the power to instructor reflection. It may be appropriate that you’re spending 80% of your time commenting on Grammar, or perhaps, for a particular assignment, you’d like to focus on other attributes.

More provocatively, we’ve been experimenting with IBM’s ‘sentiment’ analysis, which can crunch huge volumes of text to discover linguistic and emotional patterns. Are your comments, overall, positive, neutral, or negative?

We’ll be able to count words, number of words of feedback per student – lots of potential and we’d love to hear your thoughts on what might be useful and potentially tie into your own professional development plans.

3. Optimized experience for Google Docs  and Canvas SpeedGrader users

Annotate PRO for Word 2016  is now pretty sweet – to Microsoft’s credit, developers like 11trees are able to create a really integrated experience. For instance, you can highlight text in the document, then click an Annotate PRO Favorites button and a comment is created and the text inserted saving multiple clicks.

We want to get to parity, as much as possible, across the different solutions teacher may use and so we’ve been innovating our Chrome Extension to bring a similar focus to Google Docs and Canvas SpeedGrader. These features are not yet available, but they’re close and we hope to ship them in early January.

In the screenshot below the user has optional horizontal and vertical Annotate PRO toolbars showing – see #1 and #3 respectively. These toolbars can be turned off, and they’ll only show up on Google Docs and Canvas SpeedGrader pages in the first place.

We’re still experimenting with design…but the key is that you can highlight text, then click an Annotate PRO button (in blue) or use search or type a Free Form comment and a Google Docs comment will appear. Just like you inserted it yourself, then typed a finely crafted message. Notice:

  • Easy search access to your selected Libraries (#1 in screenshot below).
  • Convenient Free Form comment entry (#2).
  • Favorites buttons (#3).
And in Canvas SpeedGrader: